Malcolm Gladwell Makes An Amazing Case For Why You Should Never Donate To Your College After Graduation

by 3 years ago


It happens to almost every college graduate. You graduate. You move out of your college town. You get a job — A real, grown-up job. You start paying back the Brinks trucks worth of debt you’re in thanks to that fancy piece of paper. And then the phone calls start.

The calls usually happen in the evening, right around the time you’re about to treat yourself to a Chipotle bowl for dinner. A mysterious number pops up on your phone. And then you pick up. A perky voice grates through your evening, après office peace: “Hi! This is Samantha! I’m a sophomore with a double major in PR and business marketing at [Insert College You Graduated From]! Let me tell you about how much has changed on campus since you’ve graduated! Didn’t you just LOVE IT here?!?!?!”

“Sorry Sam. I’m not going to waste your time… I have no interest in giving the place that put me $100,000 in debt a cent at this moment. Because I’m BROKE AS HELL.”

The following semester, another student calls back. And then again the next year. Every year, a new name with a new story trying to get you to open your wallet. The college you graduated from will go to no ends to stop trying to suck your hard-earned money back into their institution since you just “LOVED!” those glory days so much.

I’ve been out of college six years. Every time the people at Penn State’s Lion Line Telefund call me, I start to boil with rage. For years, I fielded the calls being totally cool and polite about how I didn’t want to donate. Maybe someday. Then I donated one year, thinking (A. “hey, I really loved that place and what I learned there and (B. it’d buy me some time of them not calling. But mostly A. I’m a sucker for a good sales pitch and I fell hook, line, and sinker after a conversation with someone who talked extensively about wanting to break into online media.

Sadly, it became a mangled mess — Lion Line never sent an official receipt, they completely butchered the spelling of my first AND last name in an e-mail confirmation, and when I tried to ask a simple question to some manager, he was a straight-up jerk. He just wanted his $15-an-hour shift to end so he could scoot to the Saloon for some Monkey Boys. Yet they still call me every couple months like clockwork, asking for me to donate. I know I only donated enough for a couple bricks in a sidewalk, but still — It’s a net aggregate model of collecting donations. Don’t be jerks. And who the hell knows where they money actually went. The whole experience made me feel like I donated to a soul-sucking bank, not someone who is actually grateful.

Big University endowments are a HUGE, multi-billion dollar business. The topic is the subject of a thoughtful Op-Ed in the New York Times, especially with how these big, multi-billion dollar endowments are managed by hedge fund managers who are making MILLIONS from the universities alone. Here’s the gist, via:

Last year, Yale paid about $480 million to private equity fund managers as compensation — about $137 million in annual management fees, and another $343 million in performance fees, also known as carried interest — to manage about $8 billion, one-third of Yale’s endowment.

In contrast, of the $1 billion the endowment contributed to the university’s operating budget, only $170 million was earmarked for tuition assistance, fellowships and prizes. Private equity fund managers also received more than students at four other endowments I researched: Harvard, the University of Texas, Stanford and Princeton.

This afternoon on Twitter, writer Malcom Gladwell expressed just how outrageous this is. If this makes you not want to donate to your college after graduating, I completely understand. Your money isn’t even going to the school — it’s lining the pockets of rich assholes managing the stash the university has already collected.

“Greed is good” is the mantra of white collar scum criminals like Gordon Gekko, not places of higher education that attempt to make the world a better place. I’m sure there are some legit charities and scholarship funds that would be more than willing to take your hard-earned cash out of goodwill.

Here’s Gladwell’s Twitter rant, via Business Insider:

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